The Portuguese word pousada ('rest stop') may suggest a small and cheerful guest house, but this grand lodging is far from modest.
Owned by the Portuguese luxury hotel chain Pestana, Pousada de Lisboa has perhaps the best location of any hotel in the city. Harboring one corner of the grand Praça do Comércio-the vast plaza flanked by the River Tagus at one end and the Rua Augusta Arch at the other-this former noble residence and seat of Government has been impressively transformed into this upscale downtown lodging.
With a heated indoor pool, private sun-lounging deck, spa and standout restaurants, the hotel has plush rooms with impressive views, and is at the epicenter of all Lisbon's downtown happenings, from sunset strolls along the waterfront to fine dining, late night bar-hopping and taking in the impressive architecture of the Pombaline downtown.
Pousada de Lisboa joined the Small Luxury Hotels of the World group in 2015, and members sometimes receive a free upgrade at check-in
Decorated and furnished in classic-contemporary style, the rooms have soft, neutral tones, soft linens and large windows with views over the plaza and the river, or over the historic streets of Lisbon's handsome Baixa. Some have small balconies. This is a listed building, and rooms aren't huge, but they are nicely appointed and are well-soundproofed (something of a necessity in this busy part of the city). Flat screen TV, free in-room Wi-Fi, air conditioning, mini-bar, and safe are found in all rooms.
YOU SHOULD KNOW Room size and layout varies due to the age of the building, but Classic Rooms tend to be on the small side
The bathrooms at Pousada da Lisboa are a mix of classic style and modern trends, with lots of marble and glass. Some bathrooms have tubs and overhead showers, others have shower cubicles. In common with many modern hotels in Lisbon, some bathrooms are separated from the sleeping quarters by glass walls, but these can be curtained off to spare guests' blushes. Amenities are from the retro-chic Portuguese brand Castelbel.
Vaulted ceilings, artworks, and artifacts relating to Portugal's grand Age of the Discoveries, stained glass and ceiling paintings make the common areas at Pousada de Lisboa feel like stepping into a museum, while the plush carpets and dark wood reception desk add to the sense of opulence.
The hotel's Magic Spa offers guests a chance to rewind after a day tramping up the steep hills of Lisbon, with an exclusive menu of face and body treatments offered in a cool, fragrant space adjoining the pool.
The fitness center at Pousada de Lisboa is a well-maintained facility, with plenty of modern work out equipment and TV screens tuned to music channels.
As the name suggests, the hotel's formal dining restaurant RIB Beef & Wine has a meat-heavy menu (there are some vegetarian options), but this is not your average steak joint. The jaw-droppingly ornate dining room is decorated with paintings and sculptures on loan from the Lisbon Museum, while the terrace has views onto the square and the river. The meat on offer here is top-notch, with recommended cuts including the Rib eye steak and the Chateaubriand. To wash it down, there's an absolutely enormous array of wines to choose from. Breakfasts are a suitably lavish affair, with eggs cooked to order along with a vast array of hot and cold dishes.
For a one-of-a-kind experience, enjoy a glass of champagne at the Esplanada do RIB, the hotel's restaurant. Its ambiance is cosmopolitan and trendy. With an original menu featuring the Tomahawk ribeye steak (a high-quality cut aged for 28 days, affording it a pronounced but not overwhelming flavour), the Chateaubriand (selected premium tenderloin with an elegant and sophisticated flavour) and the RIB Eye (lightly marbled, succulent and profoundly flavourful)
The terrace has great people-watching opportunities, but it's on a busy main road. The opulent interior is a more relaxing setting for dinner.
The esplanade at RIB Beef & Wine is open for drinks and appetizers and is a particularly good choice to catch sunset over the river. Guests can also relax in the plump armchairs and sofas to enjoy a wine or well-mixed cocktail from the hotel bar.
The hotel is less than 8 miles from Lisbon airport and can be reached by airport transfer bus, metro to Terreiro do Paço (confusingly, this is another name for Praca do Comercio) or by cab. Trams and buses depart from the square and it's a couple of minutes' walk to the ferry, train and metro station at Cais do Sodre. But while guests should ride the fun trams up the hills at least once, part of the appeal of a stay here is the possibility of exploring Lisbon on foot. Passing under the grand arch brings you to the pedestrianized Rua da Augusta, with its shops, street artists, and restaurants, and this, in turn, leads to Rossio. Chiado is less than 10-minutes' walk away, and Bairro Alto just a little farther uphill.
There are plenty of restaurants on the square and along Rua Augusta, but these are (broadly speaking) touristy spots with high prices and mediocre food. It's worth getting a little farther off the tourist track to find better food and better prices. Taberna da Baixa (5-10-minute walk) is a cozy, unpretentious (and cash-only) spot serving delicious Portuguese mains as well as delicious cured meats and cheeses. Alternatively, see what all the fuss is about by heading to the deservedly popular Mercado da Ribeira (5-10-minute walk), where a vast array of food kiosks serves everything from octopus-tentacle 'hot dogs' to some of the best ice cream in town.
Guests can take their pick from the lively late-night bars of Bairro Alto or Cais do Sodre, both of which are within walking distance of the hotel, but both areas only really get going after midnight. For sundowners, try the kiosks along the river front, such as Quiosque de Ribeira das Naus (2-minute walk), where you can sip sangria and listen to live music as you lounge in a deck chair. Alternatively, visit the gorgeous terrace at Topo Chiado (8-minute walk), a multi-level spot for al-fresco tapas and cocktails overlooking the Santa Just lift.
WHY WE LIKE IT
This is a luxury hotel occupying a grand historic building on one of Lisbon's most iconic plazas. Facilities and services are excellent, while the grand architecture and opulent interior make a stay here feel really special. The hotel has some of the best transport links in the city, as well as being within walking distance of pretty much everything you might want to see or do in Lisbon's historic center.